As former academics co-authoring, the concept of writing with someone else, is not alien. However, for some people it seems an odd way of working, especially for fiction writing. The traditional idea of the writer is someone working alone, and indeed, many writers do follow that pattern. Increasingly though authors are collaborating on works of fiction, even famous writers like Wilbur Smith and Lee Child. So, what’s all the fuss about, and how does it work?
The first thing to understand is the difference between collaboration and co-authorship - as we see it. Authors may collaborate over a novel but that usually means one person may have the ideas while the other does the writing. Or, one writes and the other edits. These are ways of collaborating.
For example, James Patterson has collaborated successfully with several other writers. According to Thought.co.com, it’s his ideas and characters and he holds the overall viewpoint, but other writers do the rest. Of course, being aligned with such a famous author is good for those other writers too.
As we see it, co-authoring is different. In a co-authoring partnership the work, the writing, is split evenly between the partners. An example is Nicci Gerard and Sean French who write together as Nicci French. Often co-authorship refers to two people, but sometimes more
1. Fun and laughter
The most important thing about co-authoring is enjoyment. Having fun, laughing over the ups and downs of the process is, we believe, the fundamental reason why everyone should try co-authoring. If it doesn’t work for you then that’s fine but you could be surprised – if you choose your co-author with care.
2. Half the work
Another wonderful thing about having a co-author is that you halve the workload. If you are writing a novel of 80k then halving the work means it becomes more achievable. 40k words in a year. No problem! We wrote our first novel in just over four months. It’s taken more than four years to get it to publication but that’s another story. (Read our last blog on publication.) Also, the social media side of things can be divided so that it doesn’t become overwhelming. Every author has to do their own marketing and dividing the responsibility makes that less onerous.
3. Shared interest
‘Find your tribe’, is the mantra. Well, if you have a co-author then you certainly have found your tribe. You share more than an interest. If you are a writer, it’s because you must write. It’s part of your DNA. You can’t help that desire to put the words on the page; to hone and craft those words; to cherish and nurture them. Only another writer understands and your co-author more than most. That shared interest creates a special bond.
4. Share the highs and lows
Writing can be very frustrating. You slog away for hours, send stuff out and receive rejection after rejection. Give up? Not a hope with a co-author. It’s like a seesaw at times. One will be up and the other one down. Or, if your co-authored work has been rejected – again – one will be more philosophical than the other or have something optimistic to say like, ‘Well, it was a nice rejection.’ (Yes, it is possible to have a positive rejection. That’s the one that says your work has potential, but they didn’t like A, B or C.)
In a similar fashion, celebrating the highs with someone else who has been through the hell of creation, editing, submitting and waiting for months to finally have a ‘yes’ is brilliant. Nobody, not even your nearest and dearest, understands that wonderful feeling.
5. Pool of ideas
Everybody has their own ideas about different stories. The joy of having a co-author is that you have double that without any extra effort. We are constantly passing ideas back and forth, talking about stories; exchanging things we’ve seen or read as the basis of a possible future tale. It goes on. We have enough ideas to last years and constantly looking towards the next project.
Next time, we look at the disadvantages of co-authoring. We hope you’ll tell us what you think. Do you love working with someone else? Wondering if you should try? Or, is co-authoring your idea of hell?